“Do you wish God to hear your prayer immediately, brother?” asks Abba Zenon. “When you lift your hands up to heaven, pray first of all, with your heart, for your enemies and God will grant you speedily whatever else you request.”
Last night I dreamed I was writing a reflection to one of these Sayings. It was the very best reflection of all time. I don’t know whether to be sad that I don’t remember it or glad because publishing the very best reflection of all time would probably expose me to a lot of stuff I am not interested in. Most especially the pressure to do it again. I think, on the whole, I am content to write so-so reflections.
This one particularly interests me because it again speaks of something I’ve not heard mentioned in church in I can’t think when. Praying for my enemies. In the Lord’s Prayer, we forgive those who have trespassed against us, but I don’t think an enemy is what is meant there.
What is an enemy? Surely the definition is a person who actively seeks to harm us, who deliberately chooses to harm us. How many of us have such people in their lives? Very few of us, I think.
So how, then, can we apply this Saying to our lives? Perhaps by praying for those people we don’t like? Perhaps by praying for those people who irritate us so much we wish they would fall off the planet?
Because I don’t believe I have the power to convince anyone of anything, only the Holy Spirit has that authority, I don’t believe that my prayers will ever change another person. My prayers have changed me, though. They have changed the way I regard other people, events, politics, etc.
When I change for the better, as I become more of the Gloriamarie God created me to be, the closer I am to God and, yes, the more my prayers are answered because I am praying for the right things for the benefit of the world, not merely my own selfish concerns.
Although I do freely admit that as I approach the supermarket, I do pray for a handicapped parking spot and for withing the store, I pray for an electric go-cart. Yeah, could be seen as petty and selfish or maybe I am praying for something I really actually need.